The Jail Picket Line

LIVE: Grafton Jail Protest

6pm Monday July 9

Check out the newly embedded photogallery "Faces at the Frontline" - where Daily Examiner editor Jenna Cairney talks to some of the many and varied people who have manned the picket lines at the Grafton Jail.

9am Monday July 9

SOME have spent their second night camped out in front of Grafton Jail.

While the Commissioner said there would be no more attempts to transfer prisoners until 9am this morning, those in the picket line held strong, cynical about the call.

At 9am this morning those who have battled all weekend were still in strong spirits, saying they'll wait as long as it takes.

Local Member Chris Gulaptis was on route to meet the Premier. We'll update you on the result of that meeting as soon as we hear anything.

Premier Barry O'Farrell's Facebook page has been plastered with comments from Grafton debating the Jail's future.

Plans are being put in place for tomorrow's rally.

We're heading down to the picket line shortly and will be doing profiles on some of the people down there, which we'll pop online this afternoon.



3pm update

The crowd of supporters at the Grafton Jail picket line appear to have scored a small but significant victory today.

Shane O'Brien addressed the crowd just after 2pm and said the Department of Corrective Services would not be attempting any further inmate transfers today and said they would likely resume from 9am tomorrow.

Police at the scene have now dispersed and the six remaining prisoner transfer trucks were seen leaving the area and have not returned.

Union reps, leaders and members of the picket line are claiming the temporary stay as a small victory for "people power."

Much of the crowd is beginning to disperse but a number of people are already settling in for another cold night to keep the picket line in place with suspicions high the trucks will return during the night.

Mr O'Brien and Mayor Richie Williamson congratulated the crowd and commended their behaviour.

Cr Williamson said the temporary stay was a great outcome and a sign the message was getting through to the state government.

He said he was also proud of the peaceful, lawful conduct of the the Clarence Valley residents who had assembled at the jail.

There are reports Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis will meet with the state premier tomorrow morning about the situation.

There are also plans for another rally at Memorial Park on Tuesday from 12.15pm to protest the job cuts from the Grafton Jail.

2pm update

Crowds gathered at the Grafton Jail continue to hold the picket line and are taking the opportunity during what's believed to be a temporary lull to rest and regroup.

There appears to be a constant stream of supporters arriving and leaving but the overall number is still strong and morale is high.

Some supporters are trying to flag down passing cars to get them to join while others are appealing to people who are leaving to stay.

There are reports Coles has turned up and donated a load of bread, meat and eggs for the effort.

The feeling among the crowd is that the prisoner transport trucks will soon make another attempt to enter the jail.

12.30pm update

The picket line is holding fast at the Grafton Jail after a passionate and emotional morning.

Six prisoner transport trucks which had been parked beside the road on Hoof St have withdrawn to an unknown location, prompting deafening cheering from the crowd.

There is no telling whether they plan to try again today but the feeling in the crowd is that it'll only be a short break while they decide their next move.

Shane O'Brien addressed the picket line and congratulated the crowd for winning through to the "lull".

"We thought we'd only last about 2 hours originally so your efforts today are setting a very high bar," Mr O'Neill told the crowd.

Shortly after, Mr O'Brien again addressed the crowd and confirmed the prisoner transport which had entered the jail earlier would soon leave with inmates on board. Mr O'Neill and Police Inspector Murray Gillett both asked the picket line to allow the transport through for legal and safety reasons.

The transport was allowed through the picket line but not without some very passionate chanting from the crowd.

The crowd gathered at the jail are now enjoying a well-earned breather and are resting and having lunch.

There are currently no signs of the picket line weakening or the crowd departing.


11am update.

Grafton Jail stalemate continues. Crowd still building with fresh faces and supplies arriving constantly.
A car blocking the gate nearest the jail has been moved with a vehicle jack and one prisoner transport appears to have entered the jail.
About six prisoner transports remain parked on Hoof St and the drivers appear to be receiving a briefing.



Numbers swell at the picket line. The stalemate continues with all entrances to the jail blocked. The prisoner transport trucks have withdrawn for the moment and appear to be waiting further instructions.

** This just in on Save our Gaol Facebook page:

"OMG it is now 10:09am and I still haven't had sleep. 1 truck got part way in but a 4x4 is blocking it going further. Owners lost keys so now they need a tow truck to tow it out. Tow truck has been blocked. 7 more trucks just turned up and so far have stopped all of those. PLEASE get down to the jail and help us save our Jail Save our Town. Lots of people have been there all night and need a rest. Please help if U can in any way."

9.45 am

About seven prisoner transport trucks are now pulled up beside the road at the Grafton Jail and appear to waiting for further directions. The picket line continues to hold fast.

9.30 am

A second prisoner transport truck is trying to drive into Grafton Jail. The picket line is holding fast and has stopped the truck. "Save our town" is the chant. Video coming soon.



Tow truck turned up and refused to cross the picket line.



The ute blocking the gate to the jail will be towed. Tow vehicle is on the way so the picket will form to try to stop it.

People have expressed surprise at the force with which the first prison truck pushed through labelling it as "aggressive"



The truck still hasn't made its way fully into the jail as a blockade was set up right at the gate. Sharryn Usher is standing against the truck.

Civilians have been ordered to leave the jail grounds.

Correctional officers are allowed to stay. They are on their own to block the truck.

This is only the first truck, six so more still to get in.


People are walking front of the Corrective Services trucks as they try to enter the jail.


Shane O'Brien is negotiating with police over the cars blocking the Hoof St entrance.

The car that was hit is to be moved or towed.

We don't know what side the rest of the trucks will come in from.


A truck has entered jail, hitting a car outside on the way through


Officers have arrived we are just waiting on the trucks which were spotted at Woolgoolga 40 minutes ago.

More and more people are arriving, there are probably close to 100 on the front entrance to the jail. More on the other side.

A piper has just arrived to help people march to and fro in front o the entrance to block the trucks.

Police are also patrolling.

4.45 am

THE waiting game continues outside Grafton Jail. 

There's a consistent crowd of people, some have been going since early yesterday morning.

We're anticipating the trucks will arrive soon but there's no way of knowing.

1.20 am 

THE picket line outside the Grafton Jail is holding strong with no sign of tiring even as we enter into the early hours of Sunday morning.

The rumour is trucks to transfer more than 100 prisoners from the jail are somewhere in town but there's no indication what time they'll arrive.

People are lining both entrances and while the uncertainty is unsettling they are defiant. Some have been here since 2pm this afternoon.

Debrah Novak and myself arrived back around midnight and are bunking down outside the jail for the night. People are still arriving as we roll out our swags.

We'll try to keep you updated as events unfold.

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